A healthy pinch of black pepper adds a bit more spice to these Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes that you would expect. And it is exactly right. I love these cupcakes. With a a generous smear of Cinnamon buttercream, they smell just like the holidays!
Unintentionally I have found myself obsessing about gingerbread lately. I have made several different recipes, cookies, bars and even a couple of different smoothies. It might be the combination of spices that we usually find in gingerbread. It might be the molasses.
When I was younger I really did not care for gingerbread. I’m not sure if was because gingerbread was usually dry and hard-as-a-rock gingerbread men cookies or because I just did not care for the spice.
My kids don’t seem to mind the spice – so maybe it was just dried out cookies?
The first of share-worthy recipes is this Chocolate Ginger Bread cupcake from The Essential Best Foods Cookbook by Dana Jacobi. I love this book. In this book we only cook with healthful ingredients – and incidentally, chocolate is a healthy ingredient!
I'm convinced the reason I love this gingerbread is the black pepper. The black pepper completely kicks up the “spice” factor and makes you go “huh! – that is kinda spicy.” But you would never suspect there was black pepper in there. Just a subtle hint of savoury in the background – you might just think it was extra nutmeg or something.
I decided to pair these with Cinnamon buttercream because I love cinnamon and because of the pretty caramel colour.
A few notes about the cupcakes
These chocolate gingerbread cupcakes are dairy-free. I've kept the recipe dairy-free by using soy milk, curdled with lemon juice in place of buttermilk. And for the frosting I used vegan butter sticks, I like Earth Balance sticks, instead of butter. Because there is salt in Earth Balance, I did not add any salt to the buttercream.
If you choose to use dairy -- use dairy-based buttermilk and skip the lemon juice. And for the buttercream, use unsalted butter and add a pinch of salt as you mix in the icing sugar. Salt is essential for good clean flavours, but you don't want a salty frosting. So if you use salted butter or a butter alternative, skip the salt.
Cupcakes, once frosted are best served within 2 days. Keep chilled for best results.
Chocolate Gingerbread Cupcakes
- 12 cup cupcake or muffin tin, cupcake liners
- ½ cup soy milk Note: I used a scant ½ cup of soy milk with a tsp. of lemon juice, and let it sit for 15 mins or so to “sour” -- this is in place of buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1-½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1-¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- pinch of ground cloves
- 2 large eggs cold
- ⅓ cup canola oil chilled
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsulfured molasses
- ¼ cup wild honey
For the Cinnamon Frosting
- 1-¼ cup icing sugar
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 3 Tbsp. vegan butter like Earth Balance
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1-2 Tbsp. non-dairy milk
- Make soy buttermilk: In a glass measuring cup, measure 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and fill with soy milk (or other plant based milk) to measure ½ cup in total. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes to sour.
- Preheat oven to 350. Prepare baking tin by lining each cup of 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.
- In a mixing bowl. sift together the flour, cocoa, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, pepper and cloves. In a larger bowl (or the bowl of your stand mixer) whisk the eggs until beaten. Add the oil and whisk until the mixture is thick and creamy. Whisk in the sugar, about 1 minute longer. Add the soy buttermilk (soured soy milk) and molasses and honey and whisk another 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula mix in the dry ingredients until just combined.
- Pour into your lined cupcake tins and bake 18-22 mins. Or until the cupcakes have risen and are springy to the touch.
- Allow them to cool for about 5 mins then remove before removing from the baking tray, and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Make the cinnamon buttercream
- Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, on low speed, mix all dry ingredients, including brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Add butter and vanilla and 1 Tablespoon of milk continue mixing. Add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time until frosting is thick but spreadable. Cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.